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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Players were 'partly to blame' for Roy Hodgson's short spell in charge of UAE

Members of the Emirates national team from the early 2000s recall working under the man who has now been named England manager.
Roy Hodgson during his time as UAE national team manager. Al Ittihad
Roy Hodgson during his time as UAE national team manager. Al Ittihad

Abu Dhabi // Roy Hodgson's 21-month reign as the coach of the UAE national side is remembered as one of a knowledgeable manager who did not get the breaks.

The new England manager was in charge of the Emirates from April 2002 until January 2004 when he led them through qualification to the 2004 Asian Cup in China but they finished only fifth out of eight teams in the Gulf Cup at the end of his tenure.

"He did what all coaches aspire to achieve but he didn't have much success as coach of our national team, " Waleed Salem, the Al Ain goalkeeper who was a member of the national squad during Hodgson's time, said.

"We, as players, were partly to blame because we couldn't help him achieve good results." The former Liverpool manager enjoyed a 50 per cent win ratio in competitive games.

His young squad included players who are still in the national team today, such as Al Ain's Salem and Ali Al Wahaibi, Al Jazira's Subait Khater and Al Wahda's Ismail Matar.

"He had a system to build on a young team but unfortunately all his work were undone by the poor results, and then as usual, the pressure was on the coach from the fans, media and everyone else," said Mohammed Omar, who retired after leading the country to their first ever Gulf Cup when the biennial championship was staged in Abu Dhabi in 2007.

Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive officer of Wahda who has served the Football Association as the team manager at various times, said Hodgson was a coach with enormous knowledge on the game.

"However, football at the national team level is all about good results and he couldn't achieve them," Awadh said.

Yousef Al Serkal, the president of the interim committee of the Football Association, said: "From what I remember of the period he was here, he didn't have a good opportunity of preparing his team for any tournament.

"There were no training camps and players were not made available to him. It must have been difficult for him to build the right atmosphere."

Kefah Al Kaabi, a football commentator and analyst, said "In terms of results and achievements, he wasn't successful.

"He served as the national team coach for nearly two years and that goes to show he had a plan in place, which may have impressed the country's football administration."

Despite his lack of success here the players he worked with are pleased he has landed the England job.

"More than what he did as the UAE coach, I am glad on his appointment as England coach," Salem said.

"It is nice to hear someone who was the coach of the UAE is now the England coach. We can only wish him well on his future endeavours.

Omar added: "I am glad on his appointment as the England coach and wish him all the success.

"His work has not gone unnoticed.".

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